Vladimir Nabokov

NABOKV-L post 0023654, Sun, 10 Feb 2013 21:52:23 -0700

Re: fulmerlog:VN Sighting: Michael Chabon on Wes Anderson's
Nabokovian Worlds
I think that Jansy Mello and Ron Rosenbaum have misunderstood Chabon's
comment on PF. He didn't say that Kinbote tucked Zembla into the poem; he
said K. tucked it into the *housing* of the poem, that is, his apparatus.
Which is much truer.

I was interested in Jansy's question, "...why did Nabokov choose the
perspective of a gay, egocentric and delirious King to write about
his private pains of exile and estrangement." To offer what may be
simplistic answers--I think that he saw something in others' and perhaps
his memories of Russia, especially its aristocratic side, that resembled
Graustarkian and Ruritanian (*The Prisoner of Zenda*) fantasy, which he
could enjoy parodying with Zembla. He may have seen something homosexual
in this genre's dashing heroes and villains and its elaborate male
costumes--Kinbote in his guardsman's uniform looks like a "fancy pansy".

Another reason that Kinbote is "sexually left-handed" is that it fits with
all the mirrors and reflections. A possibility is that it gives him a
subject for his fantasy, this country of ancestral alderkings and tolerant
bishops. I still think it gives the reader one of a series of deceptions
to see through, along with Kinbote's being the king, being insane, being
only tolerated by Shade, not being a good scholar.

On a possibly unrelated note, Carolyn Kunin will be glad to know Rider
Haggard's *She* isn't that obscure. According to Wikipedia, it has never
been out of print. A new paperback edition appeared last year, and Amazon
is giving it away free for the Kindle--which, whether you like the Kindle
or not, at least suggests that Amazon thinks the book is desirable. (I had
no trouble finding it in a public library some years ago, but I didn't like
it much--too many pots, not enough Ayesha.)

Jerry Friedman

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